Acts 18:3
And because he was of the same craft, he stayed with them, and worked: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
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(3) Because he was of the same craft.—The calling was one which St. Paul had probably learnt and practised in his native city, which was noted then, as now, for the rough goat’s-hair fabrics known to the Romans, from the name of the province, as Cilicium ( = sack-cloth). The material was one used for the sails of ships and for tents, and on the whole, though some have supposed that leather was used for the latter, it seems more probable that this was the material which St. Paul worked at. It may be added that Pontus, from which Aquila came, was also famous for the same manufacture, the material in each case being furnished by the goats which fed upon the slopes of the Taurus, and the mountain ranges of that province. The fact that St. Paul had learnt this trade is not inconsistent with the comparative opulence suggested by his education both in boyhood at Tarsus and at the feet of Gamaliel in Jerusalem. The Rabbinic proverb, that “He who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to be a thief,” made such instruction almost universal. So the great Hillel was a carpenter. Here, it is clear, he took the course of working for his livelihood, as he had done at Thessalonica, that he might keep himself from the suspicion of self-interest in his work as a teacher (1Corinthians 9:15-19; 2Corinthians 11:7-13). Such was the beginning of his labours at Corinth. A new artisan was working for wages, or as a partner, probably the latter, as afterwards with Philemon (Philemon 1:17), in the workshop of the Jew, not as yet known to the outer world as more than a Jew, who had recently arrived in Corinth from Rome.

(3) We may add to this motive the principle on which St. Paul acted of being “all things to all men,” and, therefore, as a Jew to Jews (1Corinthians 9:20). A Nazarite vow would testify to all his brethren by blood that he did not despise the Law himself nor teach other Jews to despise it. (See Notes on Acts 21:21-24.) Such a vow, involving, as it did, for a time a greater asceticism than that of common life, furnishes a link in the succession of thoughts in 1Corinthians 9:22-25, between the Apostle’s being made “all things to all men” and his “keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection.”

18:1-6 Though Paul was entitled to support from the churches he planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling. An honest trade, by which a man may get his bread, is not to be looked upon with contempt by any. It was the custom of the Jews to bring up their children to some trade, though they gave them learning or estates. Paul was careful to prevent prejudices, even the most unreasonable. The love of Christ is the best bond of the saints; and the communings of the saints with each other, sweeten labour, contempt, and even persecution. Most of the Jews persisted in contradicting the gospel of Christ, and blasphemed. They would not believe themselves, and did all they could to keep others from believing. Paul hereupon left them. He did not give over his work; for though Israel be not gathered, Christ and his gospel shall be glorious. The Jews could not complain, for they had the first offer. When some oppose the gospel, we must turn to others. Grief that many persist in unbelief should not prevent gratitude for the conversion of some to Christ.The same craft - Of the same trade or occupation.

And wrought - And worked at that occupation. Why he did it the historian does not affirm; but it seems pretty evident that it was because he had no other means of maintenance. He also labored for his own support in Ephesus Acts 20:34 and at Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 3:9-10. The apostle was not ashamed of honest industry for a livelihood; nor did he deem it any disparagement that a minister of the gospel should labor with his own hands.

For by their occupation - By their trade; that is, they had been brought up to this business. Paul had been designed originally for a lawyer, and had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. But it was a regular custom among the Jews to train up their sons to some useful employment, that they I might have the means of an honest livelihood. Even though they were instructed in the liberal sciences, yet they deemed a handicraft trade, or some honorable occupation, an indispensable part of education. Thus, Maimonides (in the Tract Talin. Torah, chapter i., section 9) says, "the wise generally practice some of the arts, lest they should be dependent on the charity of others." See Grotius. The wisdom of this is obvious; and it is equally plain that a custom of this kind now might preserve the health and lives of many professional people, and save from ignoble dependence or vice, in future years, many who are trained up in the lap of indulgence and wealth.

They were tentmakers - σκηνοποιοὶ skēnopoioi. There have been various opinions about the meaning of this word. Many have supposed that it denotes "a weaver of tapestry." Luther so translated it. But it is probable that it denotes, as in our translation, "a manufacturer of tents, made of skin or cloth." In Eastern countries, where there was much travel, where there were no inns, and where many were shepherds, such a business might be useful, and a profitable source of living. It was an honorable occupation, and Paul was not ashamed to be employed in it.

3. tentmakers—manufacturers, probably, of those hair-cloth tents supplied by the goats of the apostle's native province, and hence, as sold in the markets of the Levant, called cilicium. Every Jewish youth, whatever the pecuniary circumstances of his parents, was taught some trade (see on [2044]Lu 2:42), and Paul made it a point of conscience to work at that which he had probably been bred to, partly that he might not be burdensome to the churches, and partly that his motives as a minister of Christ might not be liable to misconstruction. To both these he makes frequent reference in his Epistles. Of the same craft; the most learned amongst the Jews did always learn some handicraft, and it was one of those things which they held a father was bound to do for his child, viz. to teach him some trade. And one of their rabbi’s sayings is, That whosoever does not teach his child a trade, does as bad as if he did teach him to play the thief.

And wrought; St. Paul wrought with his hands, not so much because as yet there was no church there that could maintain him, but:

1. Because he would not be burdensome unto them, they being probably most mean persons that believed there, as appears, 1 Corinthians 1:26. Or:

2. That he might show how that he did not covet theirs, but them, and to gain nothing but souls amongst them. Yet he asserted his right, and the right of ministers, by Divine appointment, to live of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:6,11,12.

Tent-makers; tents were used by soldiers, and in those hot countries by others also, being usually made of skins sewn together to keep off the violence of the weather. And because he was of the same craft, Art, occupation, or trade:

he abode with them; in the same house in which they were:

and wrought; with his own hands, to support himself, for he was a stranger in this place; and as yet here was no church to minister to him; and when there was, he would take nothing of them, that the false teachers, who rose up among them, might not make any handle of it against him, and to the prejudice of the Gospel; though otherwise he thought it his just due to receive a maintenance from the churches; and insisted upon it as an ordination of Christ. He learned a trade whilst among the Jews, with whom it was common for their greatest doctors to be brought up to some trade or another; See Gill on Mark 6:3.

for by their occupation they were tent makers; either for the soldiers, and which were made of sack cloth of hair, or of leather, and of the skins of various animals (f), sewed together; hence the phrase, "sub pellibus", "under the skins", is used for to lie in tents (g): or those tents they made, were canopies made of linen, and other things, which were erected in the summer season to shade and screen from the heat of the sun; though others take them for a sort of tapestry, or hangings, which they made for theatres, palaces, and stately rooms; and according to the Syriac version, they were horses' trappings which they made: perhaps they were of the same occupation with Menedemus the philosopher, who was "a sewer of tents" (h).

(f) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 1. c. 12. (g) Caesar. Comment. l. 5. de Bello Africano. p. 471. Liv. Hist. l. 5. in principio. (h) Laert. Vit. Philosoph. l. 2. p. 172.

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
Acts 18:3-4. It was a custom among the Jews, and admits of sufficient explanation from the national esteem for trade generally, and from the design of rendering the Rabbins independent of others as regards their subsistence (Juch. xliii. 1, 2), that the Rabbins practised a trade. Olshausen strangely holds that the practice was based on the idea of warding off temptations by bodily activity. Comp. on Mark 6:3, according to which Christ Himself was a τέκτων.

διὰ τὸ ὁμότεχνον εἶναι] sc. αὐτόν, because he (Paul) was of the same handicraft. Luke might also have written διὰ τὸ ὁμότεχνος εἶναι (Kühner, II. p. 352); but comp. on the accusative Luke 11:8, and see on the omission of the pronoun, where it is of itself evident from the preceding noun, Kühner, § 852 b, and ad Xen. Mem. i. 2. 49.

ἦσαν] the two married persons.

σκηνοποιοί] is not with Michaelis to be interpreted makers of art-instruments, which is merely based on a misunderstanding of Pollux, vii. 189, nor yet (with Hug and others) makers of tent-cloth. It is true that the trade of preparing cloth from the hair of goats, which was also used for tents (κιλίκια), had its seat in Cilicia (Plin. N. H. vi. 28; Veget. de re mil. iv. 6; Serv. and Philarg. ad Virg. Georg. iii. 313, vol. II. pp. 278 and 338, ed. Lion); but even apart from the fact that the weaving of cloth was more difficult to be combined with the unsettled mode of life of the apostle, the word imports nothing else than tent-maker (Pollux, l.c.; Stob. ecl. phys. i. 52, p. 1084), tent-tailor, which meaning is simply to be retained. Such a person is also called σκηνοῤῥάφος, Ael. V. H. ii. 1; and so Chrysostom[76] designates the apostle, whilst Origen makes him a worker in leather (Hom. 17 in Num.), thinking on leathern tents (comp. de Dieu).

ἔπειθε is the result of ΔΙΕΛΈΓΕΤΟ (Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17). He convinced, persuaded and won, Jews and Greeks (here—as it is those present in the synagogue that are spoken of—proselytes of the gate).

[76] See also Theodoret on 2 Corinthians 2:6 : τοσοῦτον ἴσχυε καὶ γράφων ὁ σκηνοῤῥάφος.Acts 18:3. διὰ τὸ ὁμότεχνον: the word is peculiar to St. Luke, and although it is found in classical Greek and in Josephus, it is not used in the LXX, and it may be regarded as a technical word used by physicians of one another; the medical profession was called ἡ ἰατρικὴ τέχνη, physicians were ὁμότεχνοι; thus Dioscorides in dedicating his work to Areus speaks of his friendly disposition towards fellow-physicians (ὁμοτέχνους), Hobart, p. 239, Weiss in Meyer’s Kommentar, Luke 1:6, and also Vogel, Zur Charakteristik des Lukas, p. 17 (1897). On the dignity of labour as fully recognised by Judaism at the time of the Advent, see Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, chapter xi.; Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, pp. 18, 19, 141 (Taylor, 2nd edit.).—ἔμενε παρʼ αὐτοῖς: “In Alexandria the different trades sat in the synagogue arranged into guilds; and St. Paul could have no difficulty in meeting in the bazaar of his trade with the like-minded Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3), with whom to find a lodging,” Edersheim, u. s., p. 89, and see passage from T. B. Sukkah, 51 b, quoted by Lumby, in loco, and on Acts 6:9.—ἠργάζετο: “at Corinth St. Paul’s first search seems to have been for work,” cf. Acts 20:34-35, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 1 Corinthians 4:11-12, 2 Corinthians 11:9, Php 4:12. In close connection with this passage cf. “St. Paul a Working Man and in Want,” An Expositor’s Note-Book, pp. 419–438 (the late Dr. Samuel Cox), see also Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 34–36.—σκηνοποιοὶ: only here in N.T. (σκηνοποιεῖν, Symm., Isaiah 13:20; Isaiah 22:15); much has been said about the word, but there seems no reason to depart from the translation “tent-makers,” i.e., σκηνοῤῥάφος, Aelian, V.H., ii., 1, and so St. Paul is called by Chrysostom and Theodoret, although Chrysostom also calls him σκυτοτόμος, 2 Timothy 2, Hom., iv., 5, 3. It is no doubt true that tents were often made of a rough material woven from the hair of the goats in which Cilicia abounded, and that the name κιλίκιον (Lat. cilicium, Fr. cilice, hair-cloth) was given to this material; but the word in the text does not mean “makers of materials for tents”. There is no ground for rendering the word with Renan tapissier, or with Michaelis “Kunst-Instrumentenmacher”. On the curious notion that St. Paul was a landscape painter, which appears to have arisen from a confusion between σκηνοῤῥάφος and σκηνογράφος, and the fact that he is described as ἡνιοποιός, probably a confusion with σκηνοποιός, see Expository Times, and notes by Ramsay, Nestle, Dec., 1896, Jan. and March, 1897. As it was often enjoined upon a son not to forsake the trade of his father, perhaps from respect, perhaps because a similar trade might be more easily learnt at home, it is likely that Saul followed his father’s trade, which both father and son might easily have learnt at Tarsus. Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 44, E.T. In a commercial city like Corinth the material would be easily obtainable, see critical note.3. And because he was of the same craft] Among the Jews every Rabbi deemed it proper to practise some handicraft, and they have a proverb about R. Isaac, who was a smith, “Better is the sentence of the smith (R. Isaac) than that of the smith’s son (R. Jochanan),” thus marking their opinion that the pursuit of a craft was no injury to the teacher’s wisdom (T. B. Sanhedrin, 96a). Thus our Lord is spoken of (Mark 6:3) as “the carpenter.”

he abode with them, and wrought] Some ancient authorities read and they wrought. This change in the number seems awkward. The mention already made of the craft of Aquila and his wife conveys the information that they wrought: what the sentence seems to need is the addition which the singular gives that “he wrought.” In a passage from T. B. Sukkah, 51 b, part of which has already been quoted on Acts 6:9, we read in a description of the Jewish synagogue at Alexandria, “The people did not sit mixed together, but goldsmiths by themselves, and silversmiths by themselves, and ironworkers by themselves, and miners by themselves, and weavers by themselves, and when a poor man came there he recognised the members of his craft, and went there, and from thence was his support, and that of the members of his house.” This may explain how readily Paul found at Corinth some persons who were of his own craft.

by their occupation they were tentmakers] What they made was most probably tent-cloth. This was of goats’ hair, and the plaiting of it into strips and joining these together was a common employment in Cilicia, to such an extent that the district gave name to the material and the articles made of it, a soldier’s and sailor’s rough hair rug being named Cilicium. As the trade was intended in such cases as St Paul’s merely to be used as a resource under circumstances of need which were not likely to come about, we can understand that while complying with Jewish feeling in the matter, a trade would be chosen for the boy which would not consume a large part of his time in learning. Mishnah Qiddushin iv. 14 says “let a person teach his son a trade both clean and easy.” The most common handicraft of Tarsus offered just such a trade in the making of this rough goats’ hair cloth.Acts 18:3. Εἰργάζετο, he worked) in a city so splendid.—σκηνοποιοὶ, tentmakers. The Jews were wont to join to doctrinal (learned) studies manual labours.Verse 3. - Trade for craft, A.V.; they wrought for (he) wrought, A.V. and T.R.; trade for occupation, A.V. (τέχνῃ). Of the same trade; ὁμότεχνον. This word occurs here only in the New Testament, but is of frequent use in Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Galen (Hobart, as before). Tent-makers; σκηνοποιοί, which is paraphrased by σκηοῥῤάφοι, tent-stitchers or tailors, by Chrysostom and Theodoret. Hug and others erroneously interpret it "makers of tent-cloth," from the fact that a certain kind of cloth made of goats' hair, called κιλίκιον, was manufactured in Paul's native country of Cilicia. But the fact of such manufacture would equally lead persons who were living in Cilicia to exercise the trade of making tents of the cloth so manufactured. St. Paul alludes to his manual labor in Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9. Of the same craft (ὁμότεχνον)

It was a Rabbinical principle that whoever does not teach his son a trade is as if he brought him up to be a robber. All the Rabbinical authorities in Christ's time, and later, were working at some trade. Hillel, Paul's teacher, was a wood-cutter, and his rival, Shammai, a carpenter. It is recorded of one of the celebrated Rabbis that he was in the habit of discoursing to his students from the top of a cask of his own making, which he carried every day to the academy.

Tent-makers (σκηνοποιοὶ)

Not weavers of the goat's-hair cloth of which tents were made, which could easily be procured at every large town in the Levant, but makers of tents used by shepherds and travellers. It was a trade lightly esteemed and poorly paid.

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